The Leesville Road baseball team lost eight of its first nine games but finished the regular season on a 13-game winning streak and as the Cap Eight 4A champion.
The Pride opened the season with a 4-1 loss to North Davidson; a 9-6 loss to Cardinal Gibbons, which is No. 1 in the N&O rankings; and a 6-1 loss to Heritage, which contended for the Cap Eight 4A regular-season title.
Leesville beat Broughton 11-0 before playing in the National High School Invitational in Cary and dropping four straight to some of the best teams in the nation. Sanderson continued the Pride’s misery with a 4-3 victory.
But the Pride didn’t lose in April or so far in May.
“We have a fantastic group of seniors,” said Leesville coach Guy Civitello. “We’ve got 11, and they’ve been pulling the rope in the same direction all year. Even when we were 1-8, our guys didn’t lose their confidence. They kept believing.”
First baseman Jakob Arnold, catcher Jack Conley, pitcher Andrew Papp and shortstop Dillon Cooper are three-year starters and helped lead the team. Papp, Ryan Sande and Conner Tracy consistently provided quality pitching starts.
“We knew we had a very tough schedule, but thought closing (with) great competition might help us in the long run,” Civitello said. “We were competitive with every team we played, and we were not that far from being 8-1 instead of 1-8.”
The NCHSAA playoffs begin Tuesday, and Leesville will be at home against Sanderson.
Lacrosse skills: Ravenscroft boys lacrosse coach Sandy Kapatos said the skill levels that he is seeing this season far surpass the norm of a few years ago.
“We are seeing players in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade being able to put five or six passes together,” Zapatos said. “I think we are seeing the benefits now of chasing after young children and teaching them lacrosse skills. It is not just at Ravenscroft, but throughout the area. We’ve created a culture.”
Ravenscroft, 13-1, is the No. 3 seed in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A playoffs and will be at home against Cannon School on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The Ravens are led by seniors McLean Voelkel on the attack and John Bailey on defense.
No repeat for Frazier: Ravenscroft senior senior Ryen Frazier, who won the NCISAA 3A championship in the 1,600 and 3,200 in 2014, is not participating in high school track at Ravenscroft this spring. She is among the best high school distance runners in the country.
Baldy top freshman: Former Sanderson High baseball standout Connor Baldy has been named the Conference Carolinas freshman of the year. The Pfeiffer outfielder hit .297, including six doubles, 16 RBI’s and a team-high two triples. He did not have an error this season and led the Falcons with eight stolen bases.
Charter title: Raleigh Charter freshmen Harrison Tseng and Joseph Fisher won the NCHSAA 1A tennis doubles championship on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Elkin’s Ryan Schell and Chad Vestal.
Schell was the 1A singles champ in 2014 while Vestal had played in the double finals last year. Tseng and Fisher were undefeated in doubles this season.
“I’m extremely proud of how well these guys have played lately,” said Raleigh coach Ryan Griffin. “They’ve worked hard, developed chemistry, and battled on every point. It’s been a fun process watching them improve this season.”
All Carrboro: The NCHSAA 2A tennis doubles on Saturday was all Carrboro. Max Fritsch and Jake Zinn of Carrboro repeated as champions by defeating teammates Jason Wykoff and Sean Ross, 6-1, 6-4.